By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– It seems bizarre to think about, 43 straight games as a win. It’s De La Salle like almost.
West Salem was part of that streak with their 10-0 defeat to Jesuit as the Crusaders streak touched 43 entering Monday night’s game.
Yes, both teams had their chances. Both brought the pressure, especially in the final 15 minutes of the game. Geez Paige Alexander almost gave Jesuit an outright loss as time wind down in the closing minutes of the team’s 0-0 tie Monday as her expression and the loud ‘oh’ erupted by the home Titan crowd in the stands next to her probably best described the feeling in this physical match.
“I’m so proud. Everyone was kind of coming into this doubting us and not one of our teammates doubted each other,” said Alexander. “We knew we could pull this through, we knew we could get the tie. We wanted the win, but we got the tie. We knew we could do it. We know that their beatable and I’m just really happy with the result even though it was a tie.”
Sarah Rice, Abby Knoll and the West Salem defense stepped up when they needed to against the four midfielder approach that Jesuit threw their way. Alexander pointed out as her, Amani Noor and an offensive threat that was missing Madison McDougal in the lineup due to illness, they could work the middle more against the Crusaders for the possible rematch during the postseason here in a few short weeks.
For those like a Noor, the feeling of having the opportunity to snap the Oregon girls soccer-equivalent of the Spartans 151-game winning streak in football with the Crusaders and to tie with a Nationally-ranked program in Jesuit at this point of the season five games in feels fantastic after how last season ended for them.
“Tonight we weren’t individuals, we were a team,” said Noor. “When one of us pushed and went through a ball to get to win it, we all stepped up and we all played our game. This is a very good team, but if we play strong and played together, we’re capable of anything.
“That just gives us momentum to work harder in season. We obviously want to win league and I think that if we really work hard, we’ll be able to come back in time of playoffs and maybe get a real result against them next time if we see them.”
The last time that the Crusaders had a non-win result was on November 8, 2016 when Jesuit lost 2-1 to Sunset in the 6A State Semi-Final round. And yes, the job isn’t done yet. It’s only game five and as the Titans (4-0-1) prepare for Sherwood Wednesday, the Crusaders won’t forget what happened on the Black Turf on this mid-September night.